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The first smart cards have arrived
Soon credit cards with magnetic bands will be replaced with cards embedded with chips, also known as smart or chip cards. It is expected that Panamanian banks will be ready to replace them by October 12, the date on which they will stop issuing the current cards.
Smart cards are made of plastic and are similar in size and other physical standards to regular credit cards, save that they will be stamped with an integral circuit. This circuit could have a memory or a microprocessor (CPU) with an operative system that will allow it to carry out a series of tasks such as storing, encrypting information and reading and writing data, very similar to a computer.
As an access control mechanism, smart cards make their stored personal and business data accessible only to the appropriate users. The cards assure portability, security and data reliability.
The transition process is being coordinated by Smart Card Alliance Latin America (Scala), a subsidiary of Smart Card Alliance, a non-profit organization formed by companies and entities with links to this activity that works to achieve the general implementation of smart cards.
Chip cards implement the EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) standard, a global platform that provides interoperation of integrated circuits.
Edgar Betts, Scala associate director, said that 90% of Panamanian banks are ready to start the transition process and many of them have already launched the new cards to market.
There are approximately 1.5 million debit and 800,000 credit cards in Panama. This change in format will make fraud more difficult and will allow Panamanian banks to incorporate to this new global tendency, increasing their competitiveness.